MINNEAPOLIS – There wasn’t much news out of the Timberwolves morning shootaround, except perhaps that the team doesn’t seem to have sustained any further injuries and should play with 12 men again Friday night. And this season, that might be considered news.
On Wednesday against the Clippers, the team had 12 available players for the first time since Dec. 26, and it used 10 of them. Coach Rick Adelman elected not to play Lou Amundson or Chris Johnson, and it’ll be interesting to see whether he implements the plan he’s floated of playing Johnson alongside fellow center Nikola Pekovic.
Losing streaks: The Timberwolves have lost 19 straight to the Lakers. The last time they beat Kobe and company was March 6, 2007, in a double-overtime game. Last season, though, Minnesota played the Lakers close in three of four contests, losing 106-101 on Jan. 29, 105-102 on March 9 (the day Ricky Rubio tore his ACL) and 97-92 on March 16. Moral victory?
The Lakers’ 19-game winning streak over the Timberwolves is tied for the second-longest winning streak against one team in franchise history. The longest was a 24-game winning streak over the Kings from 1983-1988, and the Lakers also beat the Mavericks in 19 straight from 1995-1999.
Conversely, the Lakers are in the midst of their own losing streak – on the road. They’ve given up eight straight games away from Staples Center, and though they looked poised to snap the skid on Wednesday in Phoenix, they blew a lead late after Dwight Howard re-injured his shoulder. Howard will not play Friday night and is listed as day-to-day.
The Pau problem: Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has been vocal the past two days about his friend Pau Gasol’s issues with the Lakers. Gasol was benched on Jan. 17 for the first time since he was a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, and in doing so, coach Mike D’Antoni made quite the statement. Coming off the bench, though, Gasol averaged 13.1 points on 53.0 percent shooting, up from his 12.7 points and 42.9 percent shooting as a starter. He’ll rejoin he Lakers starting five Friday night in place of Howard.